DUBAI, April 27 (Reuters) – Italian jeweller Bulgari and Dubai developer Meraas Holding plant to build a luxury resort and residential project on a man-made island off the coast of Dubai as the emirate steps up its expansion as an international tourist destination.
The 1.7 million square foot (157,935 square metre) Bulgari Resort and Residences project will cover about a quarter of Jumeirah Bay Island, joined to Dubai’s mainland by road bridges.
It will feature a 101-room hotel, 165 residential apartments, 15 mansions and eight penthouses and will be completed in the first quarter of 2017, Meraas’s chief hospitality officer Cherif Hosny said on Monday.
Hosny did not give the cost of the project or the expected sales value of the residential properties, which will go on the market in the next few days.
The project will be entirely financed by government-owned Meraas, with Bulgari, acquired by Paris-listed LVMH in 2011, licensing its brand for an undisclosed amount.
“Hotels are not a business venture for Bulgari — it’s a design, communication and public relations way of differentiating our brand,” said Silvio Ursini, Executive Vice President of Bulgari Hotels & Resorts.
Ritz-Carlton will operate the hotel under the Bulgari name.
“We don’t have the operating know-how,” said Ursini, adding the hotel’s 20 beachside villas will help average room rates become “by far the highest in the market”.
Rooms at the Burj Al Arab, the world’s only seven-star hotel, range from 4,995 dirhams ($1,361) a night to 32,950 dirhams, excluding taxes and fees.
The Bulgari link-up is the latest property venture by Meraas, which is owned by Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum and has about 12 local real estate projects.
Meraas is also majority shareholder in Dubai Parks and Resorts, which is building a $2.9 billion tourist attraction in the emirate. Dubai aims to double annual tourist numbers to 20 million in 2020 from 10 million in 2012, and treble tourism income over that period. (Reporting by Matt Smith, editing by Louise Heavens)